In the two Tampa Bay races in which Democrats knocked off incumbent Republicans, the Florida Democratic Party had near zero influence in the winning campaigns.
In House District 63, where Mark Danish unseated Shawn Harrison, the FDP was invisible.
My blogging colleague Kartik Krishnaiyer was on the ground in HD 63 and makes it clear Danish’s victory took place without the party’s direct help and largely on a low budget with volunteers staffing the campaign.
“I volunteered my time because for this reason,” writes Krishnaiyer. “No candidate who had a better chance to win a seat in the entire state was getting as little from the party.”
Across the bay, in House District 65, where Carl Zimmerman defeated Peter Nehr, the Florida Democratic Party was up front about how little it was involved in this race.
First of all, Zimmerman didn’t receive a single dollar from the FDP. And in an article about how little help the FDP was providing Zimmerman, Christian Ulvert, the consultant who guided the Democrats’ state House campaigns all but admitted that the party had written off Zimmerman.
Ulvert said he worked closely with Pinellas County Democrats to “make sure whatever resources are needed are spread around.” You can read between the lines there.
Instead, the party focused on all of the other House races in Pinellas. And while the party did play a major role in Dwight Dudley defeat of Frank Farkas in HD 68, it also lost in Democratic-leaning HD 69, where Republican Kathleen Peters dispatched Josh Shulman.
Krishnaiyer believes the Florida Democratic Party left several victories on the field, so to speak.
He believes the FDP could have played in HD 24, HD 41, HD 53, HD 59, HD 72, HD 114, and HD 115.
In each of the above listed seats, Krishnaiyer blogs, there were minimal attempts by the state party to fund the candidates (all of whom were self recruited) or to organize the grassroots operations which could have resulted in victory. In each of these districts the Florida Democratic Party made no attempt to recruit candidates and lucked out that those who wanted to pursue office choose to run, Krishnaiyer contends.
Don’t get me wrong, the FDP deserves credit for its showing on Tuesday. It was certainly stronger than in years’ past.
But, honestly, have you ever seen a state party more giddy about being in a 30-seat minority than the Florida Democratic Party?